Art & Culture

A Tribute To Sandi Smith

| Leola Bermanzohn |

This is a portrait of Sandi Smith from my first mural Women Warriors, painted in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY in October-December 2001.

Sandi, Sandra Neely Smith, was one of the Greensboro Five – five people shot & killed by the KKK at an anti-Klan protest in Greensboro North Carolina on November 3rd, 1979. She was a good friend of my parents, who named my sister after her. She held me as a baby, and was a favorite auntie to many of the kids.  My father told the story that, as the shooting began, people cleared out of the way to safety. My pregnant mother crouched between two cars. Sandi was pulling the children from harm’s way, & got behind a wall. She peeked her head out to see if there were any kids left out there, and that’s when she was fatally shot.

Just about every time I look out behind me, & literally every time I’m on my bike & turn my head all the way back to check the traffic (several times every single ride), literally every time I do that I think of Sandi Smith sticking her neck out to make sure all of the kids were okay.